AND the comeback continues.
With IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia taking up the hero’s role, the Philippines survived a major scare to beat lowly Zambia, 2.5-1.5, and vault into a share of 20th place in the 43rd World Chess Olympiad.
Garcia, at 23 one of the country’s brightest young players from Ateneo de Manila, outduelled Kela Kaulule Siame in 60 moves of an English opening in a heart-stopping board three encounter that spelled the big difference in the four-board match.
All three matches were drawn, leaving Garcia with the unenviable task of saving the day for the 54th-seeded Filipinos against the No. 75 seed Zambians.
And Garcia, who honed his skills playing against the veterans who hang around at the V. Luna Chess Club, did not disappoint.
GM Julio Catalino Sadorra drew with IM Andrew Kayonde, GM John Paul Gomez halved the point with FM Douglas Munebga and IM Haridas Pascua split the point with Prince Daniel Mulenga in other results.
The win -- the fourth in a row -- enabled the GM Eugene Torre-coached Filipinos to move into a 14-country tie for 20th place with 14 points on six wins and three losses with still two rounds remaining.
The four-game winning streak, which also included victories over Jersey (4-0) , Albania (2.5) and Uruguay (3-1), also enabled the Filipinos to recover from a three-game skid that sent them crashing all the way down to 101st place in the fifth round.
“The boys are in high spirits going to the last two rounds. Everyone is giving his best. We have physical exercises and bonding after the games in the evening and opening preparation in the morning,” said Torre in a message to People’s Tonight.
Torre said he will field the same four players in their 10th and penultimate round match against No. 78 seed Ecuador.
“Hindi muna uli lalaro si MJ (Turqueza). But he is contributing a lot in helping me in the opening preparations of his teammates,” added Torre.
The WGM Janelle Mae Frayna-led women’s team also bounced back from back-to-back losses to Georgia-2 and Argentina to roll b ack South Korea, 3-1.
Frayna whipped WFM Wang Chengjia (51, Modern Defense), WFM Shania Mae Mendoza routed WFM Roza Eynula (42, Fernch defense) and WIM Bernadette Galas outclassed Kim Yubin (46, King’s Pawn opening).
WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego was the lone loser as she fell to Park Sunwoo (46, Sicilian) on board three.
With the win, the Filipinas also moved to a 13-country logjam at 33rd spot with 11 points
Next up will be No. 46 Moldova.
J. Garcia vs. K. Kaulule Siame
1. c4 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. e3 Nc6 5. Ne2 h5 6. h4 Nh6 7. Nbc3 d6 8. d3 Bd7 9. a3 Nf5 10. Rb1 a5 11. Bd2 Rb8 12. Qc2 Na7 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 Nc6 15. bxc5 dxc5 16. Nd5 O-O 17. O-O Nd6 18. Bc3 Bh6 19. Ba1 Ne8 20. Qb2 Bg7 21. Qb6 Bxa1 22. Rxa1 e6 23. Qxd8 Rxd8 24. Nb6 Nc7 25. d4 cxd4 26. exd4 Be8 27. Rfd1 Rd6 28. Rab1 Na5 29. Nc3 f5 30. d5 exd5 31. cxd5 Bf7 32. Rb2 Na8 33. Nxa8 Rxa8 8. Ra1 Rdd8 35. Rb5 Nc4 36. Rxa8 Rxa8 37. Rxb7 Rd8 38. Rb4 Nd6 39. Ne2 Ne4 40. Bxe4 fxe4 41. Nf4 Re8 42. Kf1 Kg7 43. Ke2 Kf6 44. Ke3 Kf5 45. Rb7 Kf6 46. Kd4 Ra8 47. Kxe4 Ra4+ 48. Ke3 Ra3+ 49. Kd4 Ra2 50. Nd3 Rd2 51. d6 Be6 52. d7 Ke7 53. Ke3 Rd1 54. Nc5 Re1+ 55. Kf4 Bf5 56. Rb8 Bxd7 57. Rb7 Kd6 58. Nxd7 Re7 59. Kg5 Rf7 60. Rb6+ Kd5 1-0